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Work Amphora of the Praxias Group

Department of Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities: Etruscan Art (9th-1st centuries BC)

Amphore du groupe de Praxias : scène de combat

© Musée du Louvre

Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities
Etruscan Art (9th-1st centuries BC)

Astier Marie-Bénédicte

The red-figure technique was developed in Athens starting in 530 BC, but rarely used in Etruria until the fourth century BC. Comparable effects were produced by red overpainting, a process developed in Vulci between 480 and 460 BC in the studio of Arnth Praxias. The decoration of this amphora reflects the Etruscans' fondness for Attic models, but also illustrates their ability to develop original techniques. The design depicts pairs of warriors fighting, sword and spear in hand.

An amphora of the Praxias Group

This Etruscan amphora was produced between 480 and 460 BC. It is one of a series of vases known as the "Praxias Group" in reference to a painter who worked in Vulci, central Etruria. His name vase is on display in the Cabinet des Médailles.

The overpainting technique

This amphora was decorated using the overpainting technique. The sought-after effects were practically the same as those obtained by the Attic red-figure technique, developed a few decades earlier (circa 530 BC). Despite the massive importation of Attic red-figure vases, this technique was not really taken up by the Etruscans until the early fourth century BC. With the red-figure technique, the design appeared in the natural clay color, in red on a black ground; overpainting, however, consisted of coating the entire surface of the vase with a slip that turned black in firing, then painting a decoration in red onto this black background. Finally, the details were added - not by tracing the contour lines with a brush, but by incising to reveal the black of the underlying slip. The state of preservation of the painted figures - notably the gaps in the red paint on the shields - makes it possible to observe the various stages involved in the decoration of this vase.

A battle scene

Ancient Greek tradition is clearly manifest in the form and decorative syntax of the amphora. Each side portrays a duel in which the naked warriors are armed with crested helmets, swords, spears, greaves, and shields. The subject was probably inspired by the mythological battles featured on Attic red-figure ceramics from the late sixth and early fifth centuries BC. The simplicity of the decoration, the limited number of characters on the black expanse of the belly, and the treatment of the warriors' anatomy clearly result from the research into movement and the rendering of anatomy that began with the Severe style.


Beazley John Davidson, Etruscan vasepainting, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1947, p. 195, n 5.
Szilágyi János György, Mélanges Kazimierz Majewski, Archaeologia Polona, t. XIV, Varsovie, 1973, pp. 95-114, p. 103 et p. 113, note 9.

Technical description

  • Peintre de Jahn

    Amphore du groupe de Praxias : scène de combat

    Début du Ve siècle avant J.-C.



  • Argile, surpeinture rouge

    H. : 40 cm.

  • Acquisition Signol, 1858 , 1858

    Battle Scene

    G 63

  • Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities

    Denon wing
    Ground floor
    Etruria II
    Room 421
    Vitrine 2

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